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Swedish word of the day: Marknadshyra

Today's word will take you a step closer to understanding Sweden's current political crisis.

Swedish word of the day: Marknadshyra
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Marknadshyra can be split into marknad (‘market’) and hyra (‘rent’).

Like in English, a marknad can be both a venue for buying and selling goods, or it can refer more generally to the market in an economic sense, for example arbetsmarknad (labour market) or marknadskrafter (market forces).

So marknadshyra means market rent: the system of setting rental prices based on the market, rather than keeping them regulated under a system of rent caps. 

It’s a major talking point right now, due to an agreement the governing Social Democrats (reluctantly) made with the conservative Centre and Liberal parties to introduce market rents in Sweden. This would be a major shake-up to a rental market that is currently heavily regulated, but under proposals suggested following a government inquiry, it would only have applied to newly built apartments, constructed after 2022.

One of the planned changes is that location would play a bigger part in setting the price, so that housing in popular areas would go up in price. Rent would also rise each year in line with inflation.

As for why this move is so controversial, it’s because rent controls are a key pillar of Sweden’s social model. They were introduced by the Social Democrats after the Second World War and in theory they allow people on modest incomes to be able to live in city centres or wherever they choose.

The conservative parties that back the change say that market rents could stimulate the production of more housing, therefore solving the current housing shortage, but critics such as the Left Party and the Swedish Tenants’ Union (Hyresgästföreningen) say it will make renting more unaffordable, worsen protections for renters, and increase housing segregation.

Examples

Centerpartiet är för marknadshyror

The Centre Party is in favour of market rents

Marknadshyror kan betyda höjda hyror

Market rents could mean increased rental prices

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: liga

You may have this word in your native language or recognise it from football leagues such as the German Bundesliga or Spain's La Liga. Liga has a similar meaning in Swedish, too, with one crucial difference.

Swedish word of the day: liga

Liga originally comes from Latin ligāre (“to bind”). In most languages, liga means “league”, a group of individuals, organisations or nations who are united in some way.

Similar words exist in many European languages, such as Dutch, Spanish, Czech and Polish liga, Italian lega, French ligue and Romanian ligă.

A league is almost always something positive or neutral in other languages, but in Swedish a liga is something negative – a criminal gang, with the word ligist referring to a (usually young, male) gang member, thug or hooligan.

Political or diplomatic leagues are usually translated into Swedish as förbund (“union” or “association”) rather than liga: one example is the Swedish term for the League of Nations, Nationernas förbund.

The only exception to this rule is sport, where the popularity of international football leagues such as the Bundesliga and the Premier League has lessened the negative meaning somewhat in this context. Fans of hockey will be familiar with SHL, Svenska hockeyligan, and Sweden’s handball league is referred to as handbollsligan.

The history behind liga’negative meaning in Swedish can be traced back to the Thirty Years’ War, which took place largely within the Holy Roman Empire between 1618 and 1648.

Essentially, the Thirty Years’ War began as a fight between Protestant and Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire, with Catholic states forming the Catholic League and Protestant states forming the Protestant Union.

Sweden was – and still is – Lutheran, meaning that, when they got involved in the war in 1630, their enemies were the Catholic League – or the katolska ligan in Swedish, with its members being referred to as ligister or “league-ists”.

King Gustav II Adolf eventually beat the Catholic League in 1631 at the Battle of Breitenfeld, ultimately leading to the formal dissolution of the league in 1635 in the Peace of Prague, which forbade alliances from forming within the Holy Roman Empire.

Although this may seem like ancient history, Swedes still don’t trust a liga – the word’s negative connotations have survived for almost 400 years.

Swedish vocabulary:

Jag är lite orolig för honom, han har börjat hänga med ett gäng ligister.

I’m a bit worried about him, he’s started hanging out with a group of thugs.

Manchester United har vunnit den engelska ligan flest gånger, men City är mästare just nu.

Manchester United have won the Premier League the most times, but City are the current champions.

De säger att det står en liga bakom det senaste inbrottsvågen.

They’re saying there’s a gang behind the recent spate of break-ins.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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